Irish motorists in pre-Christmas rush to import UK cars 

Bid to avoid potentially thousands of euro in tariffs and more complicated paperwork
Irish motorists in pre-Christmas rush to import UK cars 

Irish motorists are racing to import cars from the UK in order to avoid potentially thousands of euro in tariffs.

Irish motorists are racing to import cars from the UK before the Brexit transition period ends on December 31 in order to avoid potentially thousands of euro in tariffs and far more complicated paperwork.

There has been a massive influx of imported cars from the UK in recent years, with Irish drivers finding themselves saving thousands on high-end models like Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Land Rover.

Even factoring in the exchange rate between sterling and euro, Irish motorists often find high-end models and family cars much cheaper than buying in Ireland, with higher specifications, lower mileage, and features included.

Bringing a UK car into Ireland means a motorist will have to pay vehicle registration tax (VRT) that can run into thousands of euro, depending on the model, mileage and emissions.

However, even with VRT bills and the conversion of sterling to euros, some motorists have reported savings of €5,000 or more.

Cork-based Brexit expert Mike McGrath of Arvo Procurement Consultancy, who has spent more than three years advising firms on getting Brexit-ready, said it had now become a race against time for many would-be car enthusiasts to import from the UK.

Vehicle movement is also another major concern with Brexit, especially for dealerships importing, as they will now have to pay Vat on imports, which will cause a significant cash-flow impact, he said.

From January 1, if you import a vehicle from the UK, this will be treated as an import from a non-EU country. 

"Therefore, at importation you will have to complete a customs electronic declaration and may have to pay customs duty, depending on the outcome of the Free Trade Agreement, while Vat will be imposed.

"There will also be implications for new vehicles, which have been type-approved by the UK Vehicle Certification Agency post-Brexit, with useful reference documents available from the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) and Road Safety Authority.

"As with many sectors who are currently stock-piling goods from the UK, the above Brexit risks for vehicles is currently triggering a pre-Christmas shopping spree for UK cars," Mr McGrath said.

The importing of cars, primarily from the UK, reached an all-time high in 2019, when almost 109,000 were brought in. This compared to 70,000 in 2016.

By comparison, new cars registered in Ireland shrank to 113,000 in 2019, compared with 141,000 in 2016. 

Covid-19 has had a massive impact on the number of imported cars registered here in 2020, falling from 109,000, or 49% of all first-time registered vehicles on Irish roads, in 2019  to just under 62,000 this year.

Despite that drop, Irish car sales did not capitalise, also falling sharply from 113,000 to just under 82,000, according to Central Statistics Office (CSO) data. 

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